Chennai: Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, following in the footsteps of his Tamil Nadu counterpart, has issued newspaper advertisements appealing to the people of both states to maintain peace and restraint over the Mullaperiyar dam dispute.
Addressing the people of Tamil Nadu and Kerala through half-page advertisements in leading dailies, Chandy said: "We want no incident to cast a shadow on our relationship. We assure that the Kerala government will do everything possible to protect the dignity and safety of Tamils in Kerala."
"I am sure that the government of Tamil Nadu is equally committed to protect and provide safety to people from Kerala in Tamil Nadu. I appeal to all to maintain peace and restraint and refrain from emotional acts that affect peace and harmony," Chandy said.
There have been reports of attacks on Tamil labourers working on Kerala plantations and devotees going to the Sabarimala temple. In retaliation, Keralite-owned business establishments were damaged by some miscreants in Tamil Nadu.
Reiterating his state`s stand of "Water for Tamil Nadu, Safety for Kerala", Chandy said the Mullaperiyar dam and its safety is a cause of concern for Kerala though it is also the source of water for five districts in Tamil Nadu.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had recently issued full-page advertisements in leading dailies, setting out facts of the dam dispute and also measures taken by the state in strengthening the dam.
She said land grabbers in Kerala have built resorts after the storage level in the dam was brought down to 136 ft.
"If the water level is increased from 136 ft, these resorts will get submerged in water. This is also cited by some as the possible reason for the plea to decommission the Mullaperiyar dam," Jayalalithaa said in her advertisement.
On Dec 15, the Tamil Nadu assembly passed a unanimous resolution that it would not relinquish its rights over the Mullaperiyar dam under any circumstances.
The Tamil Nadu house resolution urged the Kerala government to amend its law to facilitate an increase in the water storage level to 142 feet as per a Supreme Court order and facilitate Tamil Nadu to carry out long-term dam safety measures so that the storage level could be increased to 152 feet.
The assembly also expressed concern over the Kerala assembly`s resolution that the water level in the 115-year-old dam be reduced to 120 feet and urged the central government to deploy the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) to protect the dam.
Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been at loggerheads over the dam, built under an 1886 accord between the then Maharaja of Travancore and the erstwhile British Raj. While it is located in Kerala, the control of the dam is with Tamil Nadu and its waters serve the state.